CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Established with the aim of supporting the birth rate and for people with low incomes, the main compensation instruments to cover child-related costs are available when children are financially supported by their parents on the one hand, and during retirement on the other. These instruments can be divided into three main areas of intervention: family policy, taxation and pensions. In the first area, family benefits are paid out to families with children, initially to reduce the costs of childcare and then, when they grow older, to reduce the costs incurred by having a child in the home. In the area of fiscal policy, progressive taxation based on the family unit (quotient familial) and mechanisms linked to the costs of childcare and schooling provide households with a tax break based on the number of children. Finally, within the pension system, family benefits apply to pensioners who have raised children. Thus these different types of assistance intervene throughout the various stages of life. The level of assistance they provide depends on the number and age of the children but also on the household’s financial resources.
This article aims to analyse these family allowances, tax breaks and other family benefits over a whole lifetime. It will study the overall coherence of these measures in 2010 and assess how they intervene throughout the household life cycle. In the first part, the elements of the three areas of intervention will be presented. The existing measures, their logic and an indication of the volumes of expenditure will be taken into account. This first analysis will provide a snapshot of different generations to which different legislation has applied and the variation in their career paths and child-bearing behaviour.
In the second part, in order to counter-balance the generational effects, the child benefits will be studied through the lens of test cases. This part, with an exploratory aim, will seek to assess the changes in redistribution throughout the life cycle, depending on the size of the family, household financial resources and the characteristics of female activity. These test-cases illustrate the amounts – in the form of social, fiscal and pension benefits for families – that would have been received by a household of the generation born in 1950 if the legislation applicable in 2010 had been in force during its whole lifetime.

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